Steam inhalations have been used for a long time to treat colds, coughs, sore throats, sinusitis, chest infections and any other respiratory problems. Before the widespread availability of essential oils, raw plant material containing traces of essential oils were used. The ready availability of essential oils in the modern world has, however, made aromatherapy steam inhalations much easier and more effective.
We have already looked at facial steaming and steam inhalations use a similar technique. However, a major difference lies in remembering to breathe in deeply through the nose, especially if you have a cold and blocked sinuses, to make sure that you target the affected area. You also choose specific essential oils to counteract the symptoms you are treating.
It is appropriate to give steam inhalations to older children but they must be closely monitored the whole time, to make sure they do not scald themselves. Aromatherapy steam inhalations can sometimes be contraindicated for people with severe asthma, hay fever or debilitating respiratory disease. If in doubt, do the inhalation for half a minute only, and wait to see if any adverse reaction occurs. If not, then you can gradually increase the time spent inhaling.
Some essential oils can be quite harsh and might provoke a fit of coughing If this happens, lift your face away from the steam and take a few deep breaths of air, then return to the steam inhalation.
How to make a steam inhalation.
YOU WILL NEED
A large bowl
4—5 drops of an appropriate essential oil
WHAT TO DO
Half-fill a bowl with the boiling water, then sprinkle in your chosen essential oil.
Bend over the bowl, cover your head with a towel and breathe in deeply through your nose for few minutes, remembering to keep your eyes closed.
Alternatively, you can use a specialist facial sauna to do a steam inhalation, but make sure that you adjust the amount of essential oil if the container of water in the sauna is quite small.